Habits, customs, rituals and processions constitute an important segment of Ardesian history. For this reason, we can say that Ardesio is partly the homeland of all of this.
Below you can find a list of the recurrent and past traditional activities.
– La Scasada dol Zenerù
– Goat Fair (I Cavre dè Ardès)
– Agro-Pastoral Rites: Campanacci, Fantocci and Falò
– Il Carneàl dol Magnà (Bani di Ardesio)
– Feast for the “Return of the Sun” at Valcanale
– Ol Gioedè dè la mésa
– Ol Poiàt (how one used to make coal)
– La Calchera (lime creation)
La Scasada dol Zenerù
Every year on 31st January, in the old Serian valley of Ardesio, Autumn is “chased away” with the “Scasada del Zenerù”, which is an important and fixed tradition of the country, a much awaited ritual that is well attended by many and organized by the Pro Loco.
In olden times, 31st January was considered to be half way between Winter and Spring when the cold days of the blackbird begin: in the Upper Serian Valley, on the eve of 31st January, hundreds of people unite with the Ardesians to “chase away” Winter, the cold weather and the bad season by causing a lot of noise with cows’ bells, milk, big and small frogs and everything else with which one can make noise in a procession across the historical paths of the country, following the famous puppet which every year has different features and represents the cold season that will be symbolically hunted, burning through a wonderful and impressive bonfire.
The Goat Fair
From the famous nickname of the inhabitants of Ardesio, “i cavre dè ardés” (the cows of Ardesio), the Goat Fair was born years ago. Every year on the first or second Sunday of February, a real village feast takes place with these animals as protagonists, calling on breeders and simple onlookers who crowd into the tents especially designed to contain dozens of exhibitors with their garments. This fair has allowed dozens of young people in a purely artisan and industrial territory to get close to the breeding of these animals, not just as an after-work activity.
Now a point of reference for the entire Seriana Valley, appreciated and recognized as an important showcase for the sheep and goat sector, the Goat Fair of Ardesio is an activity that is capable not only of attracting numerous enthusiasts or simply those who are curious, but also families and children in view of the multitude of events that distinguish it, without forgetting the exceptional setting: the event takes place in the historical centre of the typical Orobian village.
Organized annually with a lot of care and attention and strongly linked to the territory and to its roots and traditions, the exhibition has grown from year to year and has managed to pull itself into the livestock sector. The number of breeders, both as professionals or just as hobbyists, has been increasing: there are now over 50 companies with a high influx of numbers that most of the time exeed 400 units.
During the day, there is the possibility for everyone to stroll in the centre among numerous stalls in the sector that attract the attention of passers-by with the simple naturalness of everyday life that farming has to offer: stalls with typical bergamese products but also agricultural equipment, crafts and clothing used in the sector.
Furthermore, amongst the side events, the presence of a carriage and horses is very successful to give anyone the opportunity to experience the thrill of an amazing tour through the streets of the historic centre of the small village in the Upper ValSeriana. In order to celebtrate the presence of donkeys at the activity, there are various fun moments for the little ones in the area dedicated to the animal which children’s literary history mostly reminds us of as “a brat”. The smallest guests will always get the opportunity to try the saddle on the pony and the donkeys for the very first time.
To add to this animation of this very important traditional event in Ardesio, every year a group or a songwriter of folk or popular music entertains the large crowd present there in the early afternoon.
In relation to the Goat Fair on the previous Saturday, an important conference is organized which is directly related to life in the mountains and above all, about mountain agriculture. This is a tangible reference point and extremely important as a final purpose of the event.
In a few words, the Goat Fair of Ardesio is a voyage across the rediscovery of our territory and of everything that surrounds it, seen from the part of those who live very close to nature. The Goat Fair is held every year during the first week of February.
Ol Poiàt: Transformation of Wood to Charcoal
Thanks to its woodlands, Ardesio has always made use of its current natural resources. It is worth noting that the technique of transforming wood to charcoal was very common in the first half of the twentieth century. In dialect, the pile of wood and earth was referred to as “poiat.”
The method is quite complex and plays an important, fundamental experience in controlling combustion.
It is prepared in different phases:
1. Once a flat space has been identified, a pile of wood is arranged with a pole in the center around which the wood is stacked, so that it can then be removed to create a fireplace. The Poiat can be of various sizes up to a height of 2.5 meters and a diameter of 5 meters.
2. Once the wood is stacked, it is covered with foliage and wood residue for about 5 centimeters plus another 5 centimeters of earth.
3. A nice bonfire is prepared not far away to have embers. The pole is removed in the center and the embers obtained from the fire are inserted, crushing it on the bottom with a pole followed by pieces of wood, until the hole left by the pole is completely filled. The top is also covered with leaves and earth.
4. Now the combustion must be constantly checked to avoid that it goes out or, worse still, that the wood burns turning into ash instead of coal. The control takes place through holes that are made starting from the top on the entire circumference of the poiat. By closing and opening these holes, the charcoal burners ensured that the process was completed with all the wood present in the stack.
The time required for the complete transformation varies according to the size of the pile and could reach up to 20 consecutive days of surveillance, day and night, which is why the charcoal burners in these periods lived in a shelter built near the poiat, which they controlled in shifts.
This profession, which has now disappeared, is part of the culture of the inhabitants of Ardesio, who in the last century often emigrated abroad, especially to France and Switzerland, to work in the woods as woodcutters. From the desire to preserve the memory of the trades that once marked the economy and the life of the inhabitants of the valley, an event was organized in the early 90s in which a group of woodcutters prepared coal with the poiat technique. The images refer to that event.
La Calchera is an oven of ancient origin which had the purpose of creating lime.
It is formed by a structure of heat-resistant square stones and is built near a road in order to facilitate the transport of limestone and timber.
After turning on the oven, it was left to heat up and was continuously fed with wood for about 6 to 8 days, at a rate of 10 kg every 3 minutes, with the aim of obtaining about 250 kg of cooked limestone.
Once the temperature reaches 800 ° C – 1000 ° C, the limestone (calcium carbonate) loses carbon dioxide and turns into quicklime (calcium oxide).
The quicklime will then be treated with water, which makes it slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), and hydrated until it reaches a pasty mass called slaked. The putty, mixed with fine sand, forms the mortar.
For more information please visit the offices of Pro Loco Ardesio.